Journal of Regulatory Economics

, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 258–281 | Cite as

Does the ban on trans-fats improve public health? In search of the optimal policy response

  • Mitja KovacEmail author
  • Rok Spruk
Original Article


This paper examines the contribution of the regulatory ban on trans-fats and voluntary trans-fat regulation to public health outcomes for a sample of 39 countries in the period 1990–2015. To this end, we exploit within-country variation in trans-fat legislation to estimate the impact of the trans fat ban on cardiovascular mortality and obesity rates. Our difference-in-difference estimates indicate modest and beneficial effects of the trans-fats ban in reducing cardiovascular mortality and obesity rate. We find that the ban on trans fats tends to decrease the mortality rate attributed to cardiovascular diseases while the effects on the obesity rates are significant, especially among children and adolescent age group. By contrast, voluntary regulation of trans fats and demand-driven regulatory strategies are generally not associated with a marked drop in the obesity rate. By controlling for country-specific time trends, we show that the estimated mortality- and obesity-related impact of the ban is not driven by pre-existing trends, and does not affect non-cardiovascular mortality rate.


Trans-fats Empirical legal studies Public policy Public health 

JEL Classification

C23 C26 C51 K42 O43 



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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EconomicsUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia

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